ECR Award winning Journalist
Be humble and learn from everyone, says ECR’s award-winning journalist, Khatija Nxedlana
The first things you notice about East Coast Radio journalist, Khatija Nxedlana, are her winning smile and her petite form. But don’t be fooled into thinking “demure.” This 25 year old pintsized powerhouse has earned her stripes as a seasoned – and now award-winning – journalist who has covered some of South Africa’s most riveting and devastating events.
The dust had barely settled on the award she brought home from Jo’burg on Saturday (18 April 2015), where she was honoured as an MTN Radio Awards Bright Star, when Khatija was back in the field, doing what she loves best. “Every day is different, it’s one of the aspects I love about the job – I’m never bored! I’ll usually start at the office and from there I’ll be assigned to a story or there’ll be breaking news and I’ll have to dash out to cover it.”
The Westville resident, who matriculated at Durban Girls’ College in 2007, fell in love with journalism during her first year at Rhodes University, and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Journalism degree.
During the 18 months she has been with East Coast Radio’s Newswatch team, Khatija has earned the respect and admiration from listeners through her thorough coverage of local and national events. From her blow-by-blow account of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial to her coverage of the Tongaat mall collapse and more recently the xenophobia-related violence in and around Durban, Khatija thrives on keeping listeners informed. It is this stoic determination and thirst for telling the real story that landed Khatija the MTN Radio Award. Always humble and unpretentious despite her achievements, the newshound has this to say when asked about the national recognition, “I hope to never let down those who believe in me.”
Born and raised in Durban and with two older brothers for company, Khatija credits her parents for arming her with a set of values that shape both her perception of the world and her treatment of all those in it. “My parents have worked so hard to give us what they never had growing up and equip us with the tools to succeed. My dad passed away in December 2013 and in everything I do, I ask myself if he’d be proud. My parents have instilled in us a never-give-up attitude, they’ve taught us to work hard and be respectful – and they’ve led by example.”
Khatija is now herself leading by example, often sharing advice with journalism students and those thinking of journalism as a career. “Learn to be multi-skilled; humble yourself; learn from everyone and speak to everyone; ask questions; be willing to put in the hours. And don’t be afraid to take on new challenges!” she says.
Ask about her most fulfilling on-the-job experience to date, and Khatija will tell you about how important journalism is in helping others. “I interviewed the family of 14 year old Thabo Mzobe, who was killed during the looting of shops in Lindelani north of Durban earlier this month (13 April 2015). His great-aunt told me that they didn’t even have money to bury him. Less than an hour after the story was broadcast on-air, listener Jason Boelhouwer, got in touch with me. We went together to the family home in Ntuzuma and he donated money so they could bury Thabo. The image of Gogo Ivy Makhozane Gumbi running and hugging a man she did not know, with tears running down her face, will forever be ingrained in my mind and in my heart.”
Khatija’s long term plans include getting her Masters in journalism and continuing to make her mark in broadcast journalism. With her experience, skill, attention to detail and humility, this won’t be difficult to achieve.